the region

Uy bats for ease of doing business at the municipal level

April 21, 2019

Government efficiency, especially at the local government level, is the spark needed to ignite economic dynamism in the countryside, according to Misamis Oriental 2nd District Rep. Juliette T. Uy, who has resolved to shepherd the MisOr towns in her district toward effective compliance with the Ease of Doing Business Law (RA 11032).   "The Municipality of Villanueva, which ranked a modest 117th among 489 towns in the Department of Trade and Industry's competitiveness index, can serve as the peer group leader for the district," said Uy, who is vice chairperson of the House committee on small business and entrepreneurship development.   "Kapag less ang hassle sa pagkuha ng business permits at iba pang permit sa munisipyo, mas darami ang maliliit na negosyo. Ito ang mabisang paraan sa pagkamit ng economic dynamism o sigla ng lokal na ekonomiya at paglikha ng  mas maraming trabaho para sa mga mamamayan," the ranking lady solon added.   Uy, one of the authors of RA 11032 in the House, said her goal is to make the district's towns among the national models of LGU efficiency.   She said she will soon convene the MisOr second district local executives to "map out a results-focused action plan to streamline all important LGU processes."   "Dapat ngayong taon pa lang, meron na agad ilang proseso na mas mabilis at mahusay na kaysa dati. Dapat tataas agad ang dami ng bagong negosyong naitayo. Meron tayong mga itatakdang indicators of progress at feedback mula sa publiko," Uy explained.   "Every year there must be significant, double-digit progress measurable in terms of number of new businesses, jobs created, and satisfied customers," she added.   Uy said she will coordinate with the DTI and its attached agency, the Small Business Corporation, so that new businesses get enough support in low-interest loans and entrepreneurship training.   "I also want the Farm Tourism Law and mariculture businesses to gain momentum in Misamis Oriental because we have strong potential in high value crops and inland fishing," the congresswoman said.

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Jaraula clarifies issues on The Golden Mile Project

April 20, 2019

Former Mayor Constantino G. Jaraula has issued a clarification about his Golden Mile Project after allegedly being “ridiculed and vilified” by radio commentators on the “unfinished” renovation of the Amphitheatre.   In a statement sent to this newspaper, Jaraula explained the historical background of the project which eventually led to the controversial demolition of the former Amphitheatre known as the “Amphi” to Kagay-anons.   “The block referred to as the Amphitheater, from Burgos to Capistrano Streets, used to be the Public Market. The western half was the “wet” portion and the upper half was for dry goods. The other block from Capistrano to Rizal Streets was likewise for dry goods. In 1958 the Cogon Market was made operational under the leadership of Mayor Justiniano “Tinying” Borja and Vice Mayor Jesus “Jake”Seriña.”   “Under the same leadership the entire “Divisoria Park” from Burgos to Corrales was fully developed and was recipient of a national award in 1963 for “beautification” among local governments. City Engineer Herminio Lucero was the designer and trusted official of Mayor Borja.  It is unfortunate he died not long thereafter.”   Jaraula noted how even before he assumed office as Mayor in July 2007 the Amphitheater was non-operational and was enclosed with barbwire.   “It was “over-used” and needed rehabilitation. This was aggravated by the need for additional space in the City Hall complex so that taxpayers would not jump from one office to another area, wasting so much time in between,” he noted.   The Golden Mile   Thus, he conceived the Golden Mile Project in response to the crying need to expand the City Hall Complex at the time to accommodate the growing demands of the expanding city.   “When I took over in 2007 City Councilors did not have individual offices which we used to have. There was a demand for a One-Stop-Shop to consolidate City offices and save taxpayers time and expense. I humbly accepted the challenge and conceived of the Golden Mile Project.   Among the salient features of the project were enhancement of the river bank to prevent flooding; expansion of City Hall; construction of a multi-storey City Center to house a Public Library, Tourism and Museum,  with commercial floors to partly finance the Project; and redevelopment of the Amphitheatre to be integrated with the City Center.   In 2009, his administration was able to construct with local funds the Legislative and Administrative Buildings surrounding the Barangay/Tourism Hall by buying the old residential area of the late Assemblyman Isidro “Ñor Idroy” Vamenta and a portion of the late Edmundo Chaves property for a “discounted rate” of P13, 000 per square meter. This was considered a good bargain by former City Councilor Lourdes “Inday” Laviña since the prevailing price was at P25k/Sq.M.   The Golden Mile Master Plan called for the acquisition of all the areas bounded by the river bank and Burgos Street up to Hotel Ramon owned by the Chaves, Reyes, Roa, Montalvan, Gacula, and Pelaez families.   Moving Forward   “We started with the 782 Sq.M, lot of the late Angel Chaves right beside Hotel Ramon and at the back of the Amphitheater, with the very specific purpose of putting up the City Center, also at a bargain, thanks to Charisse (Chaves) and Rafael “Pepot”Fortich.”   “We paid off the “occupants” of the property for their houses (whether paying or non-paying of rentals) and they demolished the same and vacated the area. In fact, this generous couple donated One Million (P1,000,000.00) Pesos as their contribution to the construction of the City Center with the condition that proper acknowledgment thereof be placed in the Center Marker. The amount was deposited with the City Treasurer’s Office.”   The plan also called for the construction of a foot/pedestrian bridge at the back of the City Center towards Brgy. Carmen, in the area owned by the late Domingo Vamenta.   “This was and still is a necessity since the Ysalina Bridge is always congested and dangerous to pedestrians. A view from the Science building of Xavier University and the Golden Friendship Park would have been extended up to Brgy. Carmen. Of course, it was fully understood at the time that all these could not be accomplished in just “one term”.  And I only had one term.”   All Legal and Approved   Jaraula noted all the foregoing were covered by corresponding Resolutions and Ordinances, none of which has been repealed. They are available at the City Council for the honest and responsible commentators and scholars.   ·Resolution No. 9305 – 2008 “ResolutionAdopting the Golden Mile Project consisting of (600) Six Hundred Meters of Walkway from the junction of Toribio Chaves Street to the proposed Boulevard along the river bank , going upstream to the 5th Bridge, and 1 kilometer of Boulevard from Toribio Chaves Street going downstream to J.R. Borja Street (or thereabout).   Correspondingly authorizing the dredging and reclamation of the Cagayan River as may be convenient and necessary for the early completion of the Project; and for this purpose authorizing the Honorable City Mayor to negotiate with any person, entity, or Corporation to undertake the Project or any part thereof, provided that any and all agreements in relation thereto shall be subject to the final approval of the Sangguniang  Panlungsod.” (Unanimously Carried on September 8, 2008)   ·Resolution No. 9306 – 2008 “Resolution Authorizing the Redevelopment of the Golden Friendship Park (formerly Divisoria), including the extension of the same up to the proposed Boulevard along the River Bank and all the way to Barangay Carmen through a Walk Bridge, and the consequent acquisition of the area behind the Amphitheater, and for this purpose authorizing the Honorable City Mayor to conduct negotiations with any person, entity, or Corporation, as may be necessary to fulfill the foregoing functions, provided that any and all agreements in relation thereto shall be subject to the approval of the Sangguniang Panlungsod.” (Unanimously carried on September 8, 2008)   ·Ordinance No. 11262 - 2008  “An Ordinance Authorizing Honorable City Mayor Constantino G. Jaraula to immediately implement or undertake the Redevelopment of the Community Amphitheatre Area at Divisoria, this City, as part of the Golden Mile Project, and further authorizing: the City Mayor to negotiate with Mr. Angel Chaves for the acquisition of his property affected by the said Project and to file expropriation proceedings in Court in case of failure thereof.” (Unanimously Approved December 15, 2008)   ·Resolution No. 9560 – 2009 “Resolution Authorizing the Construction of a Multi-Storey City Center at the back of the Amphitheater (Chaves Lot to be acquired by the City) and the Immediate Bidding process therefor after compliance of basic requirements and in connection with the Redevelopment of the Amphitheater, further Authorizing the Construction of an Elevated Floor for the Amphitheater with the present Ground Floor serving as the area for Pay Parking and the Stage over Burgos Street, and other purposes.” (Carried by Majority on February 24, 2009)   ·Ordinance No. 11379 – 2009 “An Ordinance Appropriating the sum of P10,975,881.00 from the Item “Non – Office Land Acquisition/Expropriation” in the 2009 Annual Budget to be made available for the full payment of the claim for just compensation including Registration and Documentation expenses of the Lot owned by Mr. Angel Chaves, located at Barangay No. 6, this City, which was affected by the construction of a Multi-Storey City Center at the back of the Amphitheater; and for this purpose, authorizing the Honorable City Mayor to sign the Deed of Absolute Sale thereof. (Approved by Majority on May 5, 2009)   The Incomplete Amphi   Asked why the Golden Mile Project remained incomplete, Jaraula explained that the reconstruction of the Amphi was almost finished with stage already done but it had to await the construction of the City Center to which it has been integrated.   “In fact, the first to use it was ABS-CBN. This was specifically why the Angel Chaves lot was purchased to construct the City Center thereon and integrate the Amphi thereto,” he noted.   “In  the meantime, I used the ground floor of the Old Water Tank across Gaston Park to  “put up” the Museum which is being used until now as such without being expanded,” Jaraula added. Thus, he explained that the main reason why the Golden Mile Project, including the Amphi, was not completed was because the succeeding administrations did not elect to pursue it.   “There was an offer by a Korean consortium to put up a 30-storey building but my 3-year term ended faster. It was always assumed that the projects covered  by the resolutions and ordinances quoted could not be finished in just one term and subsequent administrations were expected to finish them through since they were neither amended nor repealed,” he said.

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Senate urged: Penalize gencos involved in recent unplanned outages

April 18, 2019

An infrastructure-oriented thinktank has called on the Senate energy committee led by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian to push for penalties against all power generating companies involved in the recent unplanned and forced outages which caused unexpected rotating brownouts within the Luzon power grid.    “The public demands an explanation how in the world was it possible that major generating plants suddenly become unavailable in such a short window of time. More importantly, the public should not be made to pay for these unplanned shutdowns. It should be these gencos that should pay the costs of higher power rates in the spot market,” said  Terry L. Ridon, Infrawatch PH convenor and former member fo the House energy committee.   Ridon said the following unplanned outages of the following power plants caused the April 13 red alert:    a. San Miguel Consolidated Power Corp. (SCPC) Unit 2, with 150-MW b. Sual Unit I of Team Energy and San Miguel, with 647-MW c. Southwest Luzon Power Generation Corp. (SLPGC) Unit 2 of DMCI, with 150-MW d. Pagbilao Unit 3 of Team Energy and Aboitiz Power, with 420-MW e. South Luzon Thermal Energy Corp. (SLTEC) Unit 1 of AC Energy with 135-MW..   Explain shutdown, bear the costs   “We note that these generating plants are operated by country’s leading conglomerates, and thus, all the more should they be made to explain why their plants went out, and whether they are making a commitment to bear the costs of higher power prices from the spot market.”   Ridon said should the gencos refuse to make a voluntary commitment, government should initiate penalty proceedings, similar to its intervention in the water sector.   “The main concern of the public during these times is more on the higher costs due to the unplanned shutdowns. We can more ably bear rotating brownouts than higher power rates for reasons we have absolutely nothing to do with.”

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CDO Power Rates growing faster than PH national average

April 18, 2019

Average price in PH already 2nd highest in Asia   Cagayan de Oro City -  It’s bad enough that the Philippines has the second most expensive electricity in Asia. But power rates in the franchise area of the local distribution utility have grown even faster and are now the second highest in Northern Mindanao.   According to the advocacy group Mindanao Coalition of Power Consumers (MCPC), this steady increase can be mainly blamed on the way distribution utilities (DUs) like the Cagayan Electric Power and Light Co. (CEPALCO) have been managing the way they buy electricity from their suppliers. “The tabulation shows that the rates for electricity in Region 10 and throughout Mindanao have increased by around P4.00 more than the rates five years ago,” said Engr. David A. Tauli, MCPC president and spokesperson. “The basic reason for the increase is because distribution utility companies (electric cooperatives and private distribution utilities or DUs) are using coal-fueled baseload power plants to supply the electric power requirements for intermediate loads (which occur during daytime from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m) and peaking loads (usually in the evenings from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.). “Electricity from coal plants costs twice the baseload rate when used to supply intermediate loads, and as much as four times the baseload rate when used to supply peak loads,” Tauli explained. “Thus, while the baseload rate for electricity for coal plants is P5.00/kWh, it doubles to P10.00/kWh when used to supply intermediate loads and further to as much as P20,00/kWh when used to supply peak loads,” he noted. Compare that to data from the  International Energy Consultants showing the top 5 countries with the highest power rates surveyed in Asia: Japan (P12.31 per kWh); Philippines (P8.96 per kWh); Singapore (P8.83 per kWh; Hong Kong (P6.53 per kWh); and Thailand (P6.23 per kWh). However, other countries included in the survey received subsidies from their governments. Electricity rates in the Philippines are not subsidized by the government. Government subsidies continued to make power rates artificially low in markets like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea and Taiwan. In these five countries about 41 percent of their tariffs are subsidized at around $800 billion. These subsidies are in the form of cash grants, subsidized fuel or deferred expenditure. Over the last four years, MCPC noted that electricity rates in Northern Mindanao have been climbing, to as much as nearly 50 percent for its largest distribution utility. Prior to the operation of coal plants in Mindanao, the average cost of generation was less than P3.00/kWh, coming mostly from the Agus-Pulangi hydroelectric power plants. The steady rise in electricity rates in Mindanao can be traced to the increasing use of expensive electricity coming from coal-fired power plants starting from the middle of 2017. Thus, the average rate of power supply from coal power plants in July 2018 was already around P9.50 /kWh, or three times the previous average cost. “When the coal power plants were being contracted by the DUs in 2013-14, the prospective rates published by DU’s and generation companies (Gencos) was not more than P5.00/kWh,” Tauli recalls. By July 2018, the generation component had risen to as much as P7.55/kWh for CEPALCO, mainly because of its embedded coal plant in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental. This was the highest  increase region wide at 86%, mainly because consumers are absorbing the full brunt of recovery costs for the P14.5 –Billion Minergy Coal plant in Balingasag which exclusively supplies consumers in the CEPALCO franchise area which covers Cagayan de Oro City, and the Misamis Oriental towns of Jasaan, Villanueva and  Tagoloan.  “This recovery cost would have been negligible had Minergy (a CEPALCO affiliate) chosen to supply electricity instead to the Mindanao Grid and the capital recovery costs would  have been distributed among all consumers in the island grid,” noted a retired electricity industry executive who requested to remain anonymous. Tauli notes electricity from coal power plants are relatively cheap (not counting environmental costs) when used to supply base loads of end-use consumers, it becomes extremely expensive when used for loads above base load. In comparison, Iligan Light and Power, Inc. (ILPI) has lowest rates in Region 10 (and throughout Mindanao) because it does not use power supply from coal plants for their intermediate and peak loads, he further noted. Tauli further notes how most DUs are paying Gencos “through the nose” for onerous provisions in their supply contracts which they have so far failed to re-negotiate since it costs them nothing since it is the end-users and consumers who end up paying for it. “Around 70% of the increase in the generation component of electricity prices comes from DUs using coal for intermediate and peaking loads, and  30% from the failure of electric cooperatives to address the dire consequences of using "OR" instead of "AND" in their contracts to purchase power from coal plants,” Tauli noted. A significant part of the increase in generation rates (around 30%) is due to the take-or-pay (as contrasted from take-AND-pay) provisions in some of the contracts, such as those one with FDC Misamis Power Corporation, Tauli explained.  “A simple change of one preposition in the contract (from "and" to "or") results in billions of additional profits for the coal power plants, or billions of savings to consumers should the electric cooperatives choose to re-negotiate their contracts,” Tauli stressed. “Plainly speaking, the “take-or-pay” provision in the coal contracts forces consumers to pay for electricity that they did not use.” Private DUs like CEPALCO, DLPI, CLPI and ILPI do not have "take-or-pay" provisions in their coal contracts. (KKI)

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Cebu Pacific commences direct Cebu-Shanghai flights

April 18, 2019

The Philippines’ leading carrier, Cebu Pacific (PSE: CEB) begins commercial operation of its direct service between Cebu and Shanghai, China. Shanghai, the biggest city in China and a global financial hub, is CEB's sixth international route with direct access to its Cebu hub.   The improved air connectivity is expected to boost inbound and outbound travelers for both route’s dynamic leisure and business opportunities. Shanghai’s unique oriental charm is perfect for Filipinos who want to experience a mix of Eastern and Western cultures. Often dubbed as The Oriental Paris, Shanghai boasts of beautiful modern skyscrapers and landmarks rich in culture and history.   The Cebu-Shanghai flight departs from the Mactan-Cebu International Airport at 6:50pm. The flight’s evening departure allows neighboring cities such as Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Dumaguete and Iloilo to connect seamlessly and fly to the biggest city in China via Cebu City. The return flight from Shanghai, on the other hand, will depart at 11:55pm.   The inaugural flight was graced by Blessie Cruz, Cebu Pacific’s director for marketing “The Cebu-Shanghai route will link two premier Asian destinations—reinforcing Cebu as a key hub for both domestic and international travel—enabling easier and more efficient access within the Philippines and neighboring countries for millions of residents in the Visayas and Mindanao.” Also in attendance were DOT 7’s supervising tourism officer Judilyn Quiachon and Andrew Acquaah-Harrison, GMR-Megawide’s Chief Executive Adviser; in full support of the inaugural flight.   The new Cebu-Shanghai route is in line with the carrier’s plans to expand capacity in Cebu to meet increasing demand. The carrier had earlier stated it would ramp-up capacity in its Cebu hub by as much as 20% in 2019. Aside from Shanghai, Cebu Pacific flies direct between Cebu, Hong Kong and Macau in China; as well as Narita, Japan; Incheon, Korea and Singapore. CEB also has direct flights from Cebu to 22 other domestic destinations.  

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Farmer’s daughter marches as Magna Cum Laude

April 18, 2019

After four years of hard work, Jane Danielle T. Cagalitan finally holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education with a major in English.   Asked about her secret to this accomplishment, the Hedcor and Aboitiz Foundation scholar credits her success to God, her family, and to farming.   Jane’s family lives off growing radish and tomatoes in their 5,000-sqm. farm in Kapatagan, Digos City. Her father Julius oversees most of the tasks. Her mother Janet, on the other hand, assists in tilling the land and planting crops. While this was enough to provide for the family’s needs at first, the cost of living began to increase while the price of vegetables began to fluctuate, all at a time when Jane was about to enter college. Her family knew they had to work twice as hard.   “Aside from farming, my husband sometimes hauls crops like bananas for additional income. We also plant sayote and harvest them weekly so that we could give Jane her allowance,” Janet shared.   Jane, for her part, also had to fight homesickness and dealing with the pressure. Having to study 40 kilometers away from home and maintaining the expectations after graduating high school valedictorian made Jane’s first year in college a little difficult.   “People had high expectations of me, and my college professors were really pushing me to my limits,” Jane said.   However, her persistence to finish strong never faltered.   “Instead of seeing it as pressure, I would like to call it a challenge instead so that I get motivated to persevere more,” she added.   Just like in farming however, one reaps what they sow. From the seeds of hard work and perseverance grew the fruits of success -- graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education from Cor Jesu College in Digos City. Jane also holds the honor of being the first magna cum laude among Hedcor’s scholars in Mindanao.   “We really did not expect it. Now, she’s graduating magna cum laude. When she was studying, we just continued to remind her to always work hard,” shared Janet as she fought back tears.   Today, in addition to their farm, Jane’s family now owns a sari-sari store which opened late last year, another fruit that bore from the family’s persistence and determination. Jane also plants to take the Licensure Examination for Teachers this September in hopes to someday fulfill her “passion and mission” of teaching.   “Thank you to Hedcor and Aboitiz Foundation for shouldering my financial burdens. I wouldn’t come this far if it wasn’t for your help,” Jane shared.   Hedcor, a subsidiary of AboitizPower, has been continuously providing scholarships to its community partners. However, the organization’s support towards education does not stop at graduation alone.   “As you know, Hedcor’s support will not end when you graduate. We will continuously do our best to help you, directly or indirectly. I hope that this relationship becomes two-way because we need your contribution and commitment to be able to advance business and communities,” Hedcor Community Relations Officer Lalaine Lonzaga said.   Jane is a scholar of Hedcor Sibulan, Inc. and Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. Hedcor is the run-of-river hydropower arm of AboitizPower, which operates 21 run-of-river hydropower facilities in the country.  

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